Howard Kaplan has grand plans

[attach]2882[/attach]Trustee-elect Howard Kaplan has some grand plans to change how we fund education.

Kaplan, who replaces councillor-elect James Pasternak at the Toronto District School Board in December, said days after the election the key issue he promoted while out campaigning was the idea of removing education funding from the city’s property tax bill.

Now elected, he intends to pursue this lofty goal.

“This would cut property taxes in half,” said the new York-Centre trustee. “The province took over funding education from the city, but left the old taxation system.”

Kaplan wants the province to seek alternatives to raise revenue to fund public education, and suggested taxing corporations instead.

“It would provide more stable funding for all aspects of education, which is horribly under-funded, such as arts and music, and (it would) assist kids with special needs. They only get a few hours (of help) a week,” he said. “Now schools have to have fundraisers for things schools should be providing.”

He’s hopeful the newly elected 22-member board will get behind the idea.

“I don’t think it will be a problem. (November 1), I was at the school board’s budget committee as an observer. They were talking about going after the (provincial) government for a complete revision of the funding formula,” said Kaplan, who will be sworn in as trustee on Dec. 1.

Kaplan won a competitive race to replace outgoing rep Pasternak who ran successfully for councillor in York-Centre.

Kaplan captured 3,477 votes edging out the Pasternak-endorsed Robin Shugar, who captured 3, 295 votes. Four other candidates competed: Neill Flagg captured 2,514 votes, David Horowitz got 2,206, Antonella D’Amico with 1,106 and Fenton Jagdeo with 221.

As a member of the Campaign for Public Education, he vows to fight school closures and wants schools open for community use after school.

He’ll also push to eliminate standardized testing, wants more hall monitors, more funding for ESL and smaller classes in every grade.

Kaplan has a three bachelor degrees in arts, education and business administration, and 30 years experience as a system analyst.

The father of two is one of seven new faces on the school board.

“We have a new and progressive board,” he said.

Mari Rutka was reelected Willowdale’s public school board trustee for a third term. For the upcoming term, Rutka said she will continue to push for solutions to the limited school space for local children.

[attach]2883[/attach]“There are more kids in the area, especially on the Yonge and Sheppard corridors, than sit comfortably in the local schools,” she said.

So while most of the city is weighing its options on how to address declining enrollment and unused space, Willowdale is faced with the opposite difficulty.

On election day, Rutka won with 40 percent of the votes, beating out two candidates.